Alcohol and sports: Why Does Alcohol Make You Fat?


Alcohol and sports. Why does alcohol make you fat?


What effects does alcohol have on your fitness, performance in sports, and muscle building?


Does alcohol really make you fat?


In this article, you will find answers to the following questions:


  • What happens to your metabolism when you drink alcohol?
  • Alcohol and sport: what dose is still okay?
  • How to keep making progress without giving up everything.


Now, of course, I could make it easy for myself and – in the spirit of The Prodigy – say:


“Never again, alcohol!”


If you’ve been following my articles for some time, you know I’m a realist and not a fan of total bans.


In addition, the principle practice what you preach applies to me.


How do I preach water when a glass of red wine in good company is a treat I don’t want to go without?


Alcohol is a part of social life for many of us, and some may even see it as a social glue among friends and parties.


Whether you choose – total abstinence, moderation, or “I don’t care,”: It’s your personal decision.


I aim to explain the effects of alcohol and exercise to you and give you some recommendations on combining alcohol with your training plan.


The idea is this: by the end of this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.


Does drinking alcohol make you fat?

Does drinking alcohol make you fat?

When you drink alcohol, your liver converts it into acetate, which your body can use for energy.


Now it gets “tricky.”


As long as your body can fall back on acetate, it will use it exclusively as an energy supplier – and switch off all other metabolic processes (including fat burning).


And it gets even “better”: Studies show that alcohol stimulates the appetite. 


Your body only burns “alcohol,” stores all other energy suppliers, and your appetite increases: we only have to put two and two together to understand that regular alcohol consumption makes our waistline grow.


Conclusion: If you want to lose weight and lower your body fat percentage and drink alcohol regularly (several times a week), this will, at best, slow down your success noticeably. 


You may even go backward.


alcohol affect muscle building

Alcohol and sports: how does alcohol affect muscle building?

It has been scientifically proven that spirits still hurt hormone balance even 24 hours after consumption: alcohol increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. 


It lowers that of the muscle-building hormone testosterone.


Bottom Line: Cortisol and testosterone are two main switches that tell your body whether to gain or lose muscle. 


Alcohol switches both to “muscle breakdown.”


Not cool.


Mental Effects: Alcohol and Psyche in Training

Mental Effects: Alcohol and Psyche in Training

Let’s ignore the two topics of muscle loss and fat gain: From our experience, we know that alcohol significantly impacts our psyche and mood. 


The mental effects of drinking on our training are diverse. Here are the two biggest obstacles to success:


  •       Lack of motivation: We have less fun training.
  •       Lower Intensity: We can’t put as much strain on ourselves when exercising.


Recommendation: If alcohol consumption leads to the two “side effects” mentioned, you should seriously reconsider your behavior. 


As cliché as it may sound, your key to long-term health and fitness is moderation — and I don’t mean beer measure.


How much alcohol is okay?

Alcohol and sports: How much alcohol is okay?

To lose fat, you must take in less energy than you use. 


That’s true, but due to the effects on our metabolism and the hormonal situation after alcohol consumption, the energy balance equation (energy intake – energy expenditure) no longer fits. 


So the easiest way is to look at weekly alcohol consumption.


Recommendation: A glass of wine one or two evenings a week will not significantly affect your training and can even positively affect your health. 


Dry red wine is a better choice than white wine, especially beer, due to its low carbohydrate content.


alcohol and sports weekend

And on the weekend?

I’ve had good experiences with not paying too much attention to perfect nutrition one day a week and drinking a glass or two more than occasionally during the week. 


So that we understand each other correctly: I am talking about enjoyment with a sense of proportion, not unbridled drinking binges.


It would be a pity if you were to undo the week’s successes again.


Alcohol in competition

Alcohol and sports in competition preparation

I think it is unrealistic to ban alcohol entirely. Sometimes I don’t drink a glass of alcohol for weeks. 


Still, I also enjoyed a glass of red wine with friends on one or two evenings a week in preparation for the competition without noticing a negative effect on my training.


Recommendation: What a doctor named Paracelsus said half a millennium ago also applies here: “The amount makes the poison!” 


There is a life besides training that makes our life worth living and, in turn, gives us energy and balance for our sport. 


If a glass of wine is part of it for you 1-2 evenings a week – you have my blessing.


Alcohol and sports over the year

Conclusion: Alcohol and sports over the year

As is often the case, it is a question of what goal you are pursuing and how quickly you put on fat.


As mentioned earlier, if you want to be lean and ripped all year round, I recommend keeping alcohol at moderate levels.


Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption can quickly lead to your hard-earned six-pack disappearing under a layer of fat again.


In my experience, a week of 1-2 glasses of dry red wine is absolutely fine for a top figure, health, and fitness.


It’s important to realize that alcohol is only part of the equation: if you’re cutting back on alcohol but resorting to convenience foods, candy, and sodas, you’re most likely going to no avail to train for your dream body.